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ARTICLE INFORMATION:
Author: Kick 
Title: Breeding Bettas
Summary
:  The breeding and raising of Siamese fighting fish.
Contact for editing purposes:
email: kick@bright.net

Date first published: 2001
Publication:  Badman's Tropical Fish
Reprinted from Aquarticles:
December 2002: translated into Hungarian language, on Endre Paller's web site Edesvizi Akvarisztika, at:
http://edak.cellkabel.hu  (Go to 'Cikkek').
August 2003: Posted by Jesse B. Hunt, of Mississippi, on his Aquarium Information Source
October 2003: Fancy Fins, Circle City Aquarium Club (Indianapolis)
ARTICLE USE: 
Internet publication (club or non-profit web site):

   1. Credit author, original publication, and Aquarticles.
   2.  Link to http://www.aquarticles.com  and original
        website if applicable.
   3.  Advise Aquarticles
Printed publication:
Mail two printed copies to :

(One will be forwarded to Kick)
Aquarticles
#205 - 5525 West Boulevard
Vancouver, British Columbia
V6M 3W6
Canada

Breeding Bettas

by Kick
From Badmans Tropical Fish
Aquarticles

I have kept and bred Bettas for quite some time. Many Betta keepers have asked me over and over about the correct way to do this for a successful spawn. These instructions should provide you with enough information to accomplish just that. Happy Betta Breeding!

The Breeding Pair:
Make sure that the male and female are relatively the same size. Females are usually somewhat smaller than the males, but do not try to breed a very young male or female with a much older mate. Someone will get hurt.

Condition the Pair:
Feed well, preferably with live food (brine shrimp) and keep their water very clean. Allow the two to see each other for a couple of days and then remove the female from the male's sight before placing him in the breeding tank.

Breeding Tank:
Use a small tank (I use 5 l/2 gallon) with approximately no more than 4-5 inches of conditioned water; a corner sponge filter; submersible heater set at 80; a plastic lid or piece of Styrofoam cup cut for the bubblenest; and plastic or live plants so the female can hide when needed. Do not have any rocks or substrate in this tank.
Put the male in first. Let him get used to his surroundings for about an hour or so. Then introduce the female by putting her in a hurricane globe so the male can't get to her right away. They should show some interest in one another, and he should flare at her and start working on the bubble nest. (I had the experience a couple of times that the female was already full of eggs and very shortly after introducing her into the globe and seeing the male, she started to release her eggs very quickly. She had been bred several times before with the same mate. I released her immediately and the spawn began.)

Breeding:
When the bubblenest is fair size, and she displays vertical stripes and stands "on her head" in the globe, you release her. Also look for her breeding tube to be protruding. It is visible behind the pelvic fin. There can and will probably be some nipping and chasing during this time. As long as they are not sparring too badly, leave them alone. If one or the other is being torn up very much, they are not ready. Put her back in the globe. Some sparring will occur as this is the ritual of their mating but should not be permitted to last for great length of time.
The process of the pair "being ready" can take from l hour to 4 or 5 days.
When they are ready, he will entice her to the nest, and she will eventually follow. The mating process can take anywhere from 1 hour to 4 or 5 hours. He will "embrace" her, squeeze the eggs out, and the eggs will fall to the floor of the tank. She will look like he has killed her, being very still and motionless for a few seconds, like in a trance. He will catch or pick up the eggs from the floor of the tank and "blow" into the bubble nest. (I had one pair in which the male would not have anything to do with the eggs, and the female was the one who picked up the eggs and put them into the nest.)
When the spawning is complete, she will swim away from the male and hide. He usually won't bother her as he is busy picking up eggs that fall from the nest. When spawning is done, remove her immediately (taking care not to disturb the nest) as she may become interested in the eggs and start eating them. The eggs are white and are a little bigger than a grain of salt. You will probably need a magnifying glass to see them hanging from the bubble nest.

Raising the Fry:
After the spawn and removing the female, you need to treat both her tank and the breeding tank with Maroxy. This prevents infection to her from any torn fins, and is needed in the breeding tank to keep fungus from developing in the eggs. You also need to cover the tank with plastic wrap or glass so that no cooler air is at the surface of the tank. When the fry's labyrinths start to develop (at about 5 to 7 weeks), and they come to the surface for air, they can get pneumonia and die from the cooler air. I leave the cover on the tank for the duration, until they are moved to jars or taken to the pet store for selling.
Start an infusoria culture with lettuce and water or have on hand "microfood" to feed the fry when they are ready. At first the fry will live off the yolk sac and do not need any food. Start to feed about two days after they hatch or when they become free swimming.
In about two weeks, you will need to start feeding either live baby brine shrimp (you can set up your own hatchery) or microworms (which are started from a culture and not ordinarily found in pet stores) to feed the fry. Microworms are easier to keep,  as the live baby brine shrimp only last about five days after hatching. You need to keep two hatcheries going so there is a constant supply of food.  The fry will need to be fed about every four hours or so, small portions at a time.
About 36 hours after the spawn, you will notice little "black dots" with tails falling out of the nest to the bottom of the tank. The male will studiously go to the bottom of the nest, retrieve the fry and blow them back into the nest. When the fry become a little more free swimming in the horizontal position, you can remove the male from the tank. It is also possible to remove him earlier if he is not a good caretaker, eating the fry. This is when you really need to pay attention as to how many fry you have as he might be a good poppa at first, and the next minute eat every one he picks up. If you must remove him, the fry will land on the bottom of the tank and be okay there until they become free swimming.

You need to keep the water clean during the time the fry are growing up. Use a very small plastic tube attached to air tubing or a turkey baster to suck up the debris from the bottom of the tank. Run the water into something clear so that you can look for and retrieve any fry that may have gotten sucked up the siphon. Catch with white plastic spoon (so you can see them) and replace back in the tank. Water replacement has to be the same temperature so as not to chill the fry, and be conditioned to remove chlorine and chloramines.

Betta fry are very, very tiny when hatched, and are very slow growing. Even after almost three months, they are still very little. It takes approximately 30 weeks for them to develop any color or have any size to them. They are usually not very active and most will basically sit on the bottom of the tank until feeding time. As they grow, you must pay close attention to them. As the males get older, you will notice them becoming aggressive with each other. This is when the males should be removed from the tank and "jarred". And this is where even more work is involved. You need to have on hand many mason jars for the males, and these will all need to be cleaned on a regular basis. (I have had at times over fifty mason jars sitting around my house with these little fish in them.) The females will be okay together. As time progresses and the fry become larger, you can add water to the tank to gradually fill it.. If there are quite a few female fry, they may need to be moved to a larger tank so as to not overcrowd them.

You may notice that after removing the male from the spawning tank, he acts "weird."   He may be very tired from protecting and retrieving the fry or even be depressed because his work is finished. Feed him well, add aquarium salt to his water (one teaspoon per  gallon of water) and in a few days, he should be back on track.
You may also notice that after a pair has spawned, they are very shortly ready to go at it again. If you have the room and proper set-up, you can repeat the spawning. However, you should wait at least two weeks if possible so as not to wear the pair out. If you have your hands full with the spawn you already have, don't worry about breeding again. She may release her unfertilized eggs and he may build bubble nests, but neither of these activities will hurt them.

Conclusion:
I think that just about covers the process of breeding these fish. Sometimes, you can just put the two together and immediately have a spawn, but don't hold your breath. My first spawn took several days, happened while I was away, and I was not quite sure there had been a spawn until I saw the fry falling from the nest. I was fortunate enough, however, to catch them during the act one afternoon and have the whole beautiful process on tape. Mother Nature works hard on making us look like fools, you know. But my son got an A+ on a report he did for his 8th grade Science class!!!  ?


For more information about Betta splendens, go to:
Baumgarten: Betta splendens: General Information and Breeding
Berdoulay: Bettas
Keefer: Betta Lessons
Kick: Caring for Betta splendens
Wilkinson: Labyrinth Fishes, Part III: The Bettas